Getting Started / Part 1

Getting Started / Part One:
Where to Get the Money

Before you ever write a word for your proposal you'll need to do some homework. Although it may seem premature, the first thing you need to do is have an idea of what you want to do with the money. You can't ask an agency for money and tell them you'll decide what you're going to do with it later. You must have a very specific goal: what you want to buy, restore, build, tear down, produce, create, etc. In other words, you must identify the characteristics of the "work" the money will support. Once you've done this, you'll have a useful tool for finding appropriate funding sources.

A good way to begin the process of identifying the characteristics of the "work" you want to accomplish with the money is with a brainstorming session. There are simply too many foundations and government agencies for you to start searching through them for something you might pursue. You have to start with YOUR situation. And that's what the brainstorming is aimed at doing.

At the beginning of your brainstorming session, though, you should recognize that government agencies and private foundations have certain limitations.

Most agencies and foundations have goals of their own. They have been established in order to affect some kind of change in society. Therefore, you are not likely to find money for the following:

Brainstorming the possibilities can be the most exciting part of the grant writing process. This is the time when the juices need to flow. Here's a list of questions which can serve as a starting point for your group.

During this series of lectures, I will share with you some of the work I did on a proposal for a graduate school in California. I began my work with them by discussing what they wanted to do. They explained that they were interested in reaching students who usually can't come to them because they don't have the necessary transportation. They also expressed a concern about being able to reach minorities and women.

At the conclusion of the brainstorming session, we determined that by putting together a Distance Learning program they could overcome the geographical barrier. They further identified state and federal employees as those person whom they would be especially good at targeting. Finally, they determined that minorities and women were a special population within that group who could benefit from their programs. This gave us the basis for beginning a search for agencies, foundations, and groups that might provide funding for a program of this sort.

As I began to search, my clients worked on further refining their plan in an effort to determine specifically what they needed to put it in place.

I did most of my searching on the Internet and you can do this too, but you should also make use of the traditional libraries. There are a number of publications that provide listings of foundations and agencies that provide grant funding. The information I'm going to give you focuses on the Internet searches.

You can access a number of online library catalogs. Here's a list of just a few of them.

All of this will take time and there will be a lot of dead ends, so be patient. If you think you've exhausted all possibilities, check back with me. And be sure to share the good stuff with everyone else in the class. If you find a good general source of information, post a note on the bulletin board.

Here are some other sources you may find useful.

There are now a large number of programs available through the net which allow you to search by using keywords. For most of them, you enter the keyword and click on Search. Many of these search engines use special terms which you can insert to refine your search. The special terms are called Boolean Operators.

I've set up direct links so that you can use any one of the following Internet search engines right from here:

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